12 december 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Tver Region Governor Alexander Shevelyov

The focus of the meeting was working with investors and the social sphere. The prime minister encouraged the governor to be more active in disbursing funds allocated for upgrading healthcare facilities. He also commented on the need to deregulate the local market for housing and utilities.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good evening, Mr Shevelyov. What are the results for the end of the year?

Alexander Shevelyov: Mr Putin, we have been rather successful in fulfilling all your instructions concerning the socio-economic sphere, as I reported earlier. I wanted to give you the presentation (passes documents)… We’ve become leaders in certain spheres like agriculture and the machine-building industry.

Today’s event… I wanted to thank you personally for your attention, because this event is important not just for Russia. It is very important to us, because it will improve the regional budget, and next year’s revenues will help us tackle more tasks in a more effective manner. Thank you very much!

Vladimir Putin: What’s the amount of real additional revenue to the regional and municipal budgets?

Alexander Shevelyov: We are in the process of finalising the figures. Approximately, we will have over 1 billion roubles in extra revenue.

Vladimir Putin: In other words, the energy specialists were right when they spoke about 1.2 – 1.3 billion roubles.

Alexander Shevelyov: Yes, we are verifying their calculations, comparing ours to the government ones, but in any case the additional revenue… This will be one of the largest taxpayers, and we will be able to address all our social commitments in a better way, and also make plans for the future development of the region.

I fulfilled your instruction on raising teachers’ salaries. We’ve taken the first step, and planned the second one for the next year. We will make teachers’ salaries level with the average salary in the region.

Vladimir Putin: I looked at the report before coming here. You pay teachers about 82% of the average regional salary now.

Alexander Shevelyov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: But you raised it on September 1?

Alexander Shevelyov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: By how much?

Alexander Shevelyov: By 30%. That cost us 200 million roubles from the budget. We have taken another step at the same time. Mr Putin, you recommended that we look at the salaries of preschool teachers. We raised by 30% the wage fund for preschool teachers, because their salaries were really low. Next year, we will make the second step forward regarding teachers in order to bring their salaries in line with the average regional pay.

Vladimir Putin: When?

Alexander Shevelyov: We have already planned. By July 2012, we will…

Vladimir Putin: Then you’ll need to raise their salaries to the average salary of 2012.

Alexander Shevelyov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Why in July?

Alexander Shevelyov: Our estimate is 17,000 for 2012. Our current estimate is 16,800 roubles, and we plan 17,000 roubles for 2012.  

Vladimir Putin: That way you’ll move in large steps.

Alexander Shevelyov: I believe we are ready for this step, which we planned for three years. However, with your instruction in mind, we will find a way and take this step forward. This has been met with understanding by all the teachers with whom I’ve met. We take things into account, we plan, because we are very actively implementing innovation policies and have never disrupted a single investment project.

Just two weeks ago we laid the foundation for a future Hitachi plant. I met with a Japanese delegation, and they said they were ready to launch another 11 plants. I reported earlier that we are about to commission a Shell plant soon. We are about to start the modernisation and opening of second phases for traditional enterprises in our region. We are also negotiating with other Japanese companies, because as soon as one of them plants its roots in the region, the information starts spreading, and they start looking for other opportunities to open more plants.

Vladimir Putin: How is the machine-building industry doing?

Andrei Shevelyov: We have enough orders, Mr Putin, thank you.  Our wagon plant is doing extremely well, since it has orders for building metro cars.  

Vladimir Putin: Is that the place where I was?

Andrei Shevelyov: Yes, right. So, now we have many orders. We also have other Russian Technologies enterprises. For instance, in Rzhev we have defence orders for the next three years.  We are confident about the future, indeed. We have a good opportunity to do some work right now, and we are trying to create… We visited the Udomlya District today.  We are creating an industrial zone here, because with more power coming from the fourth power plant we will be able to build production facilities here, which will use relatively cheap energy. We have the Ekoros company from St Petersburg building an agro-industrial complex now with 2,000 jobs and over 11 billion in investments. We are building an industrial zone around this manufacturing facility. We will attract enterprises interested in cheap electricity.

Vladimir Putin: What about healthcare and the programme for its modernisation?

Andrei Shevelyov: Mr Putin, I have meetings every month. When I’m in a working group, I get reports on the capital spending. This year we will disburse 1.87 billion roubles; next year, this figure will go up to 1.9 billion roubles. Indeed, there were mistakes when contractors promised during auctions more than they could actually do. In certain districts, we had to work on a case-by-case basis and force contractors to meet their obligations. Certain deadlines haven’t been met, but in most cases all funds with regard to the equipment and repairs were disbursed in due time. We report to the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development, and I monitor things personally as well. My goal is to make everything work well… I spoke with Ms Golikova, and we agreed that I will be able to use funds saved during auctions here locally.

Vladimir Putin: How many facilities do you have in total?

Andrei Shevelyov: We have about 70 facilities, and everything is distributed (this had been done before I became governor). We are disbursing funds as planned, and we report accordingly.

Vladimir Putin: I looked at the amounts allocated for upgrading the equipment. They are quite small: about 3%-5%.

Andrei Shevelyov: Mr Putin, we saw that (this mostly applies to equipment) the market is not always up to speed, because this is a nationwide programme, and occasionally the auctions for the equipment that we want to purchase are not announced. However, we were given a permit to purchase it next year as well.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shevelyov, you should make a distinction between permits and people. People know that the federal government released small amounts of funds, and the regional budget allocates funds as well. You need to speed up these processes so as to be able to start working soon.

Andrei Shevelyov: We work specifically with suppliers of particular equipment that we are prepared to buy under the modernisation programme. We are looking for opportunities to purchase equipment that we need under the modernisation programme.

Vladimir Putin: As for the housing and public utilities sector. Certainly, there’s a need to focus on market deregulation, because the main problems there have to do with the same companies providing services to consumers that receive budget funds without providing services of requisite quality. I’m not talking about everybody. However, this is one of the key problems behind the unsatisfactory situation in the housing and public utilities sector in Russia, and I’m sure that your region is not an exception.

Andrei Shevelyov: You are right, Mr Putin. We are working very closely with our law-enforcement agencies and oversight bodies. Thirteen criminal cases have been initiated. The goal is to get back the money that was taken from consumers, so as to preclude any chances of it happening again. We are doing this to reduce the debt that has piled up here. We are now building a single information centre, that is, we are moving one step at a time, so that we don’t have problems next year…

I ran into these problems when I took office: lack of hot water and debts. We are now developing partnership between the state and private businesses in order to attract funds to the region. We estimate these funds at over 9 billion roubles in order to settle problems with payment of utilities bills and not accumulate debts. Sometimes we are just heating streets, because the equipment is worn out, not only in our region, but across Russia, as well. We want to settle this problem in a comprehensive manner in four years. We are negotiating with the bank and plan to replace engineering networks, rather than patch them. Vodokanal has met us halfway and is also replacing its networks. I believe that we will cope with the housing and utilities programme.

Vladimir Putin: Good.